Friday, March 23, 2012

Wool Felt: Do You Love it Too?

I first believed my love for wool felt would be a flash and I'd move on to something else, but I really love working with it.  My last two patterns can be made with wool felt and a new design on my worktable is made entirely with wool felt.  Pair that with an idea I'm chewing on for a table quilt using wool felt and fabric, and I'm permanently hooked.  If you've never worked with wool felt before, you should consider playing outside the regular sandbox and give it a try.  There are good reasons to try wool felt:
  • Wool felt is easy to get.  You can order it with an easy click or two through Commonwealth Felt and your order arrives in a few short days.  Commonwealth Felt is the retail outlet for National Nonwovens, the wholesale manufacturer of wool felt in the United States.
  • It is NOT expensive.  A 12"x18" piece costs only about $1.79.
  • It comes in a gazillion colors and you can choose 100% wool felt, a couple different wool blends, acrylic, and even bamboo felt.
  • With a little care, It is cleanable.
  • It doesn't take up a bunch of space in your work area.  I have nearly 100 different colors that fit nicely into a small plastic drawer on my worktable.
  • It is fun and easy to work with! There's no fraying with wool felt, so it opens up a whole new world of applique ideas.


It used to be a lot of quilters hated applique, but no more! Applique doesn't have to involve  endless turning-under of raw edges and tiny, finicky stitches.  With wool felt, all those problems disappear and you are free to attach your shapes with a simple running stitch, blanket stitch or whatever other embroidery stitches you love.  Don't you agree that using wool felt on a quilt can give it a wonderful, quaint charm or a primitive look, depending on how it's used?

I use two different blends of wool felt interchangeably in my designs, a 20/80 wool-rayon blend and a 35/65 blend.  I can't tell the difference, unless I want to wash it to get the "boiled wool" look.  In that case, I use the 35/65 blend.  I'm always torn between washing the felt or leaving it smooth, because I love both looks equally. If you take a look at the following pics, you'll see wool felt right from the package . . .

and then washed, which gives it the bumpy texture that looks like "boiled wool", but at a fraction of the cost . . .

I think you'll find that using wool felt is very easy.  For most applique projects, trace your shapes onto the smooth side of freezer paper from the grocery store.  Iron the freezer paper onto the wool felt and cut out your shapes on the traced line (the waxy side will temporarily stick to the wool, but can be peeled away without leaving a residue). Cut out your shapes on the traced line and position them on the background with pins or a bit of washable fabric glue.  Now you're ready for the fun part--attaching the shapes to the background with a running stitch, whip stitch, primitive stitch or your other favorite stitches.  I use common embroidery thread because I happen to have tons of it around, but you can also use DMC perle cotton threads or hand-dyed wool threads if you want a different look.  Look at this beautiful pic I borrowed from the work of Marianne Byrne-Goarin that shows you what can be done with wool felt . . .

I'll post a full-color printable tutorial on using wool felt in a few days that will show you how to wash your wool for the bubbly "boiled wool" effect, how to care for your finished project and lots of other information on wonderful wool felt.  I hope you'll think about giving it a try!

In the meantime, Happy Stitchin'!  -- xoxo, Melanie


  1. I too love wool felt! I get mine from Wool Felt Central. I bought their 90+ color sample pack so I had every color, and then ordered bigger pieces after that. Its hard to judge colors on the computer.

    1. Michelle, it turns out you are so right! It took me a few days, but I finally checked out Wool Felt Central and ordered several colors to add to my collection. I was happy to see they get their felt from National Nonwovens too. Thanks for the tip!